The movie Spirited Away has the title in Japanese as 千と千尋の神隠し, which means Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away. This movie is about the Chihiro), a ten-year-old girl who enters the spirit world while moving to new house and try to find a way to free herself and her parents from this spirit world.

How does this movie justify its title, Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away?

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    Like this: “Hi, I’m Hayao Miyazaki, and I can give my movie any title I want, thanks for asking.” Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 11:09
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    it doesn't need to "justify" it. movies can be titled anything the director/producers want ...
    – user428517
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 17:05
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    It does not mean Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away. A closer rendition would be "The disappearance of Sen and Chihiro".
    – James K
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 20:57
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    @JamesK is right. “Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away” would be something like 神隠している千と千尋。 Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 22:40
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    Congratulations, this question is the winner of the corresponding topic challenge.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 1:57

4 Answers 4


From Merriam-Webster, spirit means

the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person


to carry off usually secretly or mysteriously

Spirited Away is a clever play on words, referencing how Chihiro enters the spirit world. She gets carried off her own world, and she becomes a spirit.

For reference, Spirited Away is not a literal translation. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi literally means hiding in the spirit world or hidden by the gods, and in other languages, the movie was distributed with other titles, such as Chihiro's Journey.

Oh, and also, if you're wondering about the Sen and Chihiro references, check out my other question!

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    I think 神隠し literally means "hidden by the gods", or "hiding with the gods", where gods would have the nuance of animistic spirits. "hidden by/hiding in the spirit world" also fits. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 12:17
  • Disclaimer: I don't know japanese at all! I'm just quoting what the wikipedia page said in portuguese
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 13:01
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    It's called Le Voyage de Chihiro (Chihiro's Journey) in French too. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 13:40
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    WWWJDIC gives “mysterious disappearance; being spirited away” for 【神隠し】. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 22:39
  • It seems you gave four possible answers and it's not clear which one or more of these is the answer. 1. "She gets carried off her own world", is "carried off" implied in the film as opposed to entering? 2. "and she becomes a spirit", does the film specify that she became a spirit when she was "carried off", maybe her already existing spirit (intelligent or sentient part) entered the spirit world? 3. "hiding in the spirit world", does the film indicate that she was hiding? 4. "or hidden by the gods" does the film indicate she was hidden by the gods? Is she both hiding and being hidden? Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 14:26

If something is "spirited away" it means that it has been removed without anybody noticing. This is exactly what happens to Chihiro in the film after she is separated from her parents. At the same time, the place she is "spirited away" too is the land of spirits, giving the title a double-meaning of sorts.

As for the "Sen and Chihiro" part, these are the names that Chihiro is referred to over the course of the film. Chihiro is her real name and Sen is the name given to her by Yubaba.

So, Spirited Away (or Sen and Chihiro's Spiriting Away) is a film about a young girl who is spirited away to the land of spirits and is referred to by two different names throughout, and the title reflects that.

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    So, I thought that spirited away means that they move from spirited world back to human world.
    – A J
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 9:05
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    @AJ, ...ahh. Speaking as a native English speaker, I'm accustomed to the meaning described in this answer. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 20:22

To spirit away means to mysteriously disappear.

The term apparently comes from older times. When a person's disappearance went unexplained, people would attribute it to being taken away to the spirit-world by spirits/gods/whatever.

In the movie, Chihiro is literally "spirited away" to the spirit world.

By the way, 神隠し "kamikakushi" does not mean "kidnapping", as stated in the top answer.

It is the combination of

  • 神 "kami" = "god(s)"
  • The nominalized (noun) form of 隠す "kakusu" = "to hide"

A good translation is "disappearance (due to unnatural/unknown causes)" or "(a person's) spiriting away"


One further detail: my mother told me that 神隠し was a term used to describe what happens when a child vanished or died unexpectedly (particularly in the past when child mortality was so much higher). They're said to have been taken by the kami, much like Germanic folklore speaks of the Erlking stealing children.

Source: my mother. Which means that it's at least a thing some people say.

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    As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 8:27
  • @StevePemberton Ah, I hadn't noticed that; thanks for pointing it out! I removed my comment.
    – Joachim
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 15:04
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    This answer seems clearly written and in my opinion does contribute to the answer. The definitive answer would come from Hayao Miyazaki or someone else directly involved in the naming of the original film or its international releases. All of the answers provided so far seem to be different interpretations, translations, and meanings of the title(s), none of the answers quote any film production sources. This answer provides another data point that seems to add to the other answers. Especially if it can be determined that this was at least a somewhat common meaning of the phrase in Japan. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 15:07
  • @StevePemberton - I was thinking that. If it's a common idiom, there should be other examples of it in literature, in the same way that people refer to a stillborn child as 'born asleep' or whatever
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 16:01
  • @Valorum - I agree an appearance in literature would be a confirmation, and also increase the possibility of its influence on the film's title. Although it's also possible that while perhaps somewhat common, the usage didn't make it into any well known literature, which would make it harder to track down other than perhaps by a linguist. But that would also probably decrease the chances that this particular usage influenced the film title. But it's still a somewhat intriguing possibility. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 16:11

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